How lowering your Cholesterol can help Your Heart

How lowering your Cholesterol can help Your Heart

Sarah McLoughlin
Posted by Sarah McLoughlin

Date: Thursday, 05 October 2017. -  
Blog, Defibrillators

This month is National Cholesterol Month, which is a campaign that aims to raise awareness of the dangers of high cholesterol. The month-long campaign includes various fundraising activities that will take place throughout October to raise money for Heart UK, a charity that aims to prevent premature deaths caused by high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.

By raising funds, we are allowing them to continue with providing life-saving work and guidance to the public and other industries where cholesterol is concerned.

What is Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is made in the liver and transported in the body by lipoproteins.

The two main types of lipoprotein are:

  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL)- Often referred to as ‘good cholesterol’ and higher levels of this are better. A normal level for most adults would be 1 mmol/L or more.
  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)- Known as ‘bad cholesterol’ as too much can cause a build-up in the artery walls, leading to disease of the arteries. A normal level for most adults would be 3 mmol/L or less.

The amount of cholesterol in the blood, both HDL and LDL can be measured with a simple blood test, a normal total cholesterol level for most adults would be 5 mmol/L or less.

Cholesterol can also be found in foods that are rich in saturated fat. Although cholesterol is essential for the normal functioning of the body, excessively high levels can have an impact on your health.

High cholesterol itself will not usually cause any symptoms, but it will increase your risk of serious health conditions.

What causes high Cholesterol

Many lifestyle factors can contribute to high cholesterol levels such as:

  1. A regular consumption of foods that are high in saturated fats can cause high cholesterol, it has been found that most people in the UK do eat too much saturated fat.
  2. A lack of regular exercise can increase levels of bad cholesterol as well as contributing to being overweight.
  3. Family history- Any cholesterol related conditions that run in the family may put you at an increased risk of high cholesterol.
  4. Underlying medical history- Often people with type 2 diabetes, kidney or liver disease and hypertension can also have high cholesterol.
  5. Smoking- Chemicals that are found in cigarettes can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs which is thought to be a contributing factor in how the body metabolises cholesterol.
  6. Regular alcohol consumption- Consistently drinking above the daily recommendations has been found to cause high cholesterol as well as increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

As high cholesterol itself does not have any symptoms, you should be mindful of the lifestyle you have. If you are worried that you may have high cholesterol you should visit your GP and a blood test will be able to check your levels.

How to lower your Cholesterol

Lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise and stopping smoking can make a big difference in lowering your cholesterol.

  1. Diet- Altering your diet to lower your cholesterol can be done by avoiding too much cakes and biscuits, butter, lard, fatty red meat and foods containing coconut or palm oil. Instead, ensure you eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.
  2. Exercise- Ensuring you exercise 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week will help to lower your cholesterol as well.
  3. Cholesterol can also be lowered by reducing your alcohol intake and following the recommended guidelines as well as stopping smoking.
  4. There are certain medicines that can help to lower your cholesterol such as statins. Your GP will advise you on these only if previous measures have not helped to effectively lower your cholesterol.

The first step in treating high cholesterol will be to ensure you maintain a healthy and balanced diet as well as regular exercise for a few months to allow the changes that have been implemented to take effect. You should always be mindful of the foods you consume that contain a high amount of saturated fat.

Getting involved

There are a number of ways that you can get involved with the campaign to support Heart UK this month. From donating to participating in campaigns, anything you do that helps to raise awareness can make a big impact.

If you would like to know more about cholesterol and how you can lower yours, join the conversation by checking out our twitter page @imptraining and a member of the team will happily get back to you.